Sunday, September 3, 2017

Middle Grade Monday- Kat Green Comes Clean by Melissa Roske

Happy Middle Grade Monday! And Happy Labor Day! The end of summer is officially here :( But, there are still great books out there to read :) Today I am reviewing a new release from Charlesbridge Publishing, Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske.

The Story-
Fifth grader Kat Greene lives with her mom in New York City. Her best friend Halle has a crush on Michael McGraw and Kat's partner in the fifth grade production of Harriet the Spy, Sam, wants to be her boyfriend, yuck! But, it is what is happening at home that gives Kat reason for concern. Her mother won't stop cleaning, not even to spend time with Kat. She cleans everything several times a day, and when she isn't cleaning she is washing her hands raw. Kat is scared to tell her dad and step mom, afraid they'll take her away from her mom.

At school, Michael decides he likes Kat, and when Halle finds out it is an all out cold shoulder. Kat has no one to talk to about her problems until she turns to school counselor Olympia. However, even with guidance, Kat's life feels like it is falling apart. Her life is way too messy.

My Thoughts-
This book takes on a topic that I feel is very relevant, OCD. I believe so many people suffer with it in one form or another and it is important for children to understand what is happening and that it is a genuine illness. The author does a great job using Kat's mom's habits as a build-up to understanding one form of OCD, obsessive cleaning. As a young girl, Kat doesn't know what to do and she just wants her mom to stop, not understanding that it is a mental illness that will actually need treatment. When Kat finally "comes clean" about what is happening in her life, then the healing begins.

Another issue involved in the book is peer dynamics. The Kat and Halle debacle is typical of what I remember from elementary and even middle school.  One friend blames another for her crush liking her friend, even though the friend has done nothing to earn the boy's feelings and does not like him, the once strong friendship turns bitter and communication doesn't work. Feelings run high and anger sets in. In this book, Kat suffers greatly with the sudden loss of her friend. Once everyone begins communicating again and telling the truth, things are untangled.

I do have one concern with the book. The author subtly presses her view about gender blurring. Often you might find this concept in YA books, no problem there, those kids are old enough to have formed their own opinions, but here it is brought out by the author as she has a teacher force boys to take on girl roles in a play, despite their objections. I'm fine with play whatever character you want, but here there is no choice and the idea of gender is taught not to matter. Another push is with Kat's dad, who likes to be Sandy and sing Sandy songs from Grease. It is even his Halloween costume. I found these situations not to be to my liking for middle grade.

Overall, I found the book a good read full of great information about OCD. It will help a younger child understand perhaps what might be wrong with a parent or friend and conveys the idea that it is okay and not to be afraid. Speak up and tell a responsible adult. I'm giving this one 4 stars!


  1. This is on the top my list of books to read. OCD is not a topic seen in middle grade books. I hope to get to this one in the coming months. Thanks for your review.

  2. I like the idea of this book and it certainly is getting a lot of buzz. I will be looking for it. Thanks for the thoughtful review.